China on Wednesday demanded Pakistan act with urgency against terror attacks on Chinese projects and personnel in the country and address the ‘root cause of the problem’. Beijing’s stern words come a day after three Chinese nationals were among four who died in an attack on Karachi University. The blast – claimed by the Balochistan Liberation Army as the work of a female suicide bomber – occurred near a Chinese language centre at the university.
“We strongly demand the Pakistani side make more efforts to protect the safety of Chinese institutions, projects and personnel in Pakistan, and make those organisations understand that those who try to hurt the Chinese will only bring destruction on themselves,” state-run daily Global Times said in an editorial.
Global Times claimed the BLA had threatened Chinese firms and citizens.
The BLA is among the more active separatist groups in Pakistan and demands independence for the province, citing unequal exploitation of its natural riches; Balochistan is Pak’s largest province by area and home to the country’s largest field of natural gas, as well as gold and other reserves.
China’s increasing footprint in the province, Reuters reports, has earned them the BLA’s attention. Chinese projects in the area include the port of Gwadar – which is key to shipping oil through the Arabian Sea. Chinese engineers here were attacked last year in an op claimed by the BLA.
Reuters reports the BLA claims to attack Chinese nationals – the embassy in Karachi was attacked in 2018 – because Beijing has ignored warnings against entering the area.
“It can be said that several serious terrorist attacks against Chinese citizens are linked to this group,” Global Times’ editorial said, acknowledging, though, that ‘Pakistan has strengthened protection… in recent years but without addressing the root causes… there will always be loopholes’.
Tuesday’s blast was the first major attack in an urban area of Pakistan since Shehbaz Sharif was sworn in as prime minister this month. He condemned what he called a ‘cowardly act of terrorism’.
China has warned its citizens to ‘not go out unless necessary’.
With input from Reuters